“I need to get in shape before I try CrossFit.”
“I’ve never worked out before and CrossFit looks too intense.”
“CrossFit is too hard.”
These are three objections that CrossFit coaches hear all the time when speaking with regular folks who are interested in CrossFit but have some misconceptions about how the program works. In this article, I’ll explore why CrossFit is for anyone and everyone, even people who haven’t exercised a day in their lives.
First, it’s helpful to read the What Is CrossFit? page on crossfit.com to understand the concepts behind the fitness program. The most important piece for new folks is the phrase “functional movement,” which basically means a movement or exercise that has a real life function. Examples are picking something off the ground (an object or even your own body), moving quickly (running), squatting, or jumping onto or even over something. In real world situations, those movements could translate to picking up a heavy box, running to catch an airplane, or lifting and squatting your kid on your shoulders. I argue that 100% of all humans need to be able to do those things, and should be able to do it at a reasonably athletic level. You don’t have to be super fast or insanely strong, but you shouldn’t be immobile and decrepit either.
The beauty of CrossFit is that you can start with those very basic movements and progress upwards in complexity and load as your fitness increases. Thus, if you can only squat your body weight for starters, in a week you might be squatting a barbell, and in a year you could be front squatting 185 lbs.
The misconception is that if you join a CrossFit gym, you’ll immediately start doing highly complex movements and heavy loads. This is not true. The reality is that most gyms start with a Foundations or On-Ramp program that teaches the basics in a controlled environment with an experienced coach. Once someone graduates from Foundations, he or she starts regular workouts at a scaled level and works upwards from there.
Scaling is an important concept to understand because it allows a new member at any fitness level to participate in any workout. Here’s an example: Billy walks into his first class and the workout of the day is Fran, which is prescribed as 95 lbs thrusters and “chin-over-bar” pull-ups. He learned the basic thruster and pull-up movements in Foundations, and also learned several modified movements that are easier than the standard movement. So, since Billy is new, he does thrusters at 45 lbs (just the bar) and jumping pull-ups instead. He completes the WOD safely and still gets in a great workout. In 3 months, after Billy gets stronger and fitter, he tries Fran at the Rx standard and completes it!
The bottom line is CrossFit is a fitness program that starts with the very basics and scales up in intensity, complexity, and load as your fitness level increases. Because it focuses on functional movements it’s relevant to everyday life, and therefore applicable to everyone. The most important qualities are that you have a desire to be functionally fit, enjoy working hard, and not be afraid to get started!